My week always starts with checking my trusty diary and I don’t mean my online calendar. I mean my old-fashioned, paper, scrawled full of appointment postcodes. I would be lost without this planner.
Although West Lothian isn’t the biggest Council area in Scotland, my appointments can be all over the region and I have quickly become familiar with the distinctive red spoil heaps, or ‘bings’ as they are known locally. Greendykes Bing is my favourite, a remnant of Winchburghs rich mining history.
Ulura (Ayres Rock) or Greendykes – you decide!
Image caption: a long, straight road with barren fields on either side leading to the red hills of Greendykes on a blue, sunny day.
What I’ve quickly learned in this role is that trust is a key element. As a stranger, albeit under the banner of healthcare, my job is to gain the service user’s trust from the off. Being invited into someone’s home is a privilege, but also daunting for both of us, and I’ve found that beginning with a friendly chat puts both of us at ease.
My days in West Lothian usually consist of three home visits, which allows me plenty of time with each service user. We’ll discuss their eye condition, what they struggle with most and then we’ll work out a plan of action. It doesn’t matter if the advice around developing indoor or outdoor mobility, or if it’s a bump on added to a microwave. The goal remains the same. To encourage the individual to break the boundaries set by their sight loss.
Sometimes one appointment is all that person needs, however they know they can always call Visibility Scotland and ask for further support should they need it. In a time where accessing services through phone lines is becoming less and less common, this is always a welcome piece of information.
Other cases require longer term support. This could be long cane training, support with orientation and mobility or teaching daily living skills. Each session is tailored to the service user’s needs. This in turn means no two appointments are the same, and I’m constantly learning as much from the people I see as they are from me.
As my title suggests, I’ve still got my ‘L’ plates on for this role. As part of my training, I’ll attend Glasgow Caledonian University some weeks to study the full mechanics of a Vision Rehabilitation Specialist. The course is fantastic, and it’s been great to meet the other students from all over Scotland. Each block on campus lasts for three days, and the learning is certainly concentrated.
There is lots of practical learning under a sleep shade ,which allows us to get a feel for what it’s like to manage daily life with a visual impairment. So far, we’ve covered long cane technique, daily living skills, various eye conditions and much more. I’m loving being back at ‘school’, though the clock is now ticking for handing in our first essay assignment. It’s all starting to get serious!
All in all, my weeks are never slow or dull. Each day really is different and there is always a new question I’m asked which means that, whether on campus or not, I’m always learning.
Posted on the: May 22, 2023